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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement20 July 2018Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries2 min read

Fighting illegal fishing: authorities of Tuvalu in the Pacific reform their fisheries management following EU action

On 18 July, the European Commission has lifted its “yellow card” for Tuvalu. The yellow card is an official warning of the European Union towards its trading partners in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. By lifting the card, the European Commission recognises the important progress of Tuvalu in addressing the shortcomings in its fisheries governance.

European Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries Karmenu Vella:

The economy of Tuvalu, a small island developing state, relies heavily on fishing. It is therefore imperative that their resources are managed in a way that ensures the prosperity and future for its fishing community. Therefore, I want to congratulate Tuvalu for the progress made and I am pleased that we have now become real partners in the fight against illegal fishing (IUU). This positive development demonstrates that the EU approach is working.

The European Commission has warned Tuvalu in December 2014 of the risk of being considered as a “non-cooperating country”. Fisheries products caught by vessels from these countries cannot be imported into the EU. Through the dialogue that has started with the yellow card, the EU has been able to help Tuvalu combat illegal fishing.

Meanwhile, the country has amended its fisheries legal framework in line with international law of the sea instruments, thus reinforcing compliance with flag, port, coastal and market state obligations. It has also included clear definitions and a deterrent regime of sanctions.

Furthermore, Tuvalu has updated its system for management of fishing resources following the best scientific advice and precautionary approach practices and has complied with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission conservation and management measures.

Finally, it has reinforced its monitoring, control and surveillance systems including the reinforcement of patrol capacity and inspections at port, strengthened staff capacity for control, inspection and observation, and accepted cooperation with countries whose vessels operate in Tuvalu' waters by granting access to Vessels Day Scheme information.

With the newly adopted measures, Tuvalu authorities have all the necessary policy means to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.

Global IUU fishing – a 10 billion euro problem

The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at 10 billion euros per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally every year, corresponding to at least 15% of world catches.

Tackling IUU fishing is one of the cornerstones of the EU's ocean governance strategy and the EU common fisheries policy. The IUU Regulation ensures that only fisheries products that have been certified as legal can access the EU market. As the world's biggest importer of fisheries products, the EU has significant leverage to drive global change.

Since November 2012, the Commission has set up formal dialogues with several third countries after a warning of the need to take strong action to fight IUU fishing (pre-identification or yellow card). 

Background information

Commission Decision of 12/12/2014 on notifying a third country of the possibility of being identified as a non-cooperating third country in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing


Publication date
20 July 2018
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries